Saturday, 26 March 2011

Oh Captain, My Captain

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Ohhhh look at you, quotes from Gandhi in your rubbish little football blog eh? You’ve changed!
I can assure you I haven’t, I was always this much of a pretentious cock!
But I offer up this quote as tasty little amuse-bouche for the topic of today’s blog. The role of captaincy.
In the lead up to the Euro 2012 qualifier between Wales and England, both teams have made big decisions regarding the captaincy of their teams. Fabio Capello has handed back the full time stewardship of the national team to serial sex pest, and all round good egg John Terry, whilst Wales have quietly snuck in 20 year old midfielder Aaron Ramsey, one of a few shining beacons to emerge from the foggy welsh valleys, as the man to take over the captains armband.
A fair amount of poo has been slung in the direction of Capello and Terry over the current situation, but the more important point here is the progressive step taken by Gary Speed of appointing a very talented 20 year old to lead his country. I have always been of the way of thinking that your captain should be your best player. Pre world cup 2010, I was a big advocate of placing the England captain’s armband on Wayne Rooney, a man that had spent the 2009-2010 season generally terrorising premiership defensives. And who’s to say that the added responsibility and pride of leading your team out at a world cup would have meant that Rooney may not have played the whole tournament like a man with his legs tied together, and also may not have turned on the England fans who had the down right cheek to spend their life savings blindly following a team that lets them down more often than a beach ball with a puncture.
The English mentality seems to be that we are looking for another Richard the Lionheart to lead our brave soldiers into battle. A Warrior, who will fall on his own sword to lead Blighty to illustrious victory! John Terry, Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams……
The problem with this is, I’m not sure it’s working (or ever has)
Do we instead need inspiration from our youngest and brightest to lead the way into a new era of footballing prosperity? And more importantly, do we need to be focusing on talent and skill more than bringing up the next generation of the bulldog breed and stepping away from the win at all cost mentality?
This is a problem of course not just consigned to football, but to British sport in general. How many of us sat on “Murray Mound” at Wimbledon cheering on the plucky Scot, or roared along with “Tiger Tim”, knowing full well that underdog spirit would simply not be enough to carry them through against the superior talents of the likes of Federer and Nadal.
So maybe Gandhi did have it right, Gone are the days when we can simply rely on being the biggest and baddest.
How about we just try to focus on being the best?


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